Euthanasia And Aging: The Right To Die

1961 words - 8 pages

Euthanasia: Is it a Right?It is time to take your head out of the sand and look at the subject of euthanasia. Many people are for it when it comes to people of elderly years. Many are against it for anyone. There are still more who look the other way and hope someone will decide the issue for them. It is against the law in most of America. It is legal in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Oregon, USA. Should we head toward a universal law on this matter? There are American doctors who do it on the sly; all parties concerned keeping it quiet. There are many cases where no one has been prosecuted for breaking this law.Reasons for Euthanasia and the Right to DieShouldn't a patient's right to autonomy factor into end of life decisions? The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics states "physicians have an obligation to relieve pain and suffering and to promote the dignity and autonomy of dying patients in their care. This includes providing effective palliative treatment even though it may forseeably hasten death."(Tucker, 2003, p. 10) A patient has a few options if they know their condition will steadily worsen. They can fill out a Do Not Resuscitate Order. This allows doctors to relinquish using life-sustaining technology. An Advance Directive can be made; this is a set of instructions, usually written, that allows the specification of the kind of treatment wanted if, in the future, a person were very ill and unable to make decisions. A Living Will can be drawn up. This document can be a part of an Advanced Directive. Basically, it states the wishes for medical treatment when a person is in imminent danger of dying. (Executive Office on Aging, 2003) The problem with these methods is that they can only limit the use of life sustaining technology. Many people die in pain or agony. It should be a person's right to choose euthanasia if the person knows they are dying and there is no hope for recovery. There are many doctor's against euthanasia; however, there are also doctor's for euthanasia. It is this author's belief hospitals could employ at least one doctor willing to provide euthanasia if it became legal to administer methods for providing euthanasia.According to a correspondence article in the Lancet, "On April 10, 2001, the Dutch parliament legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, and on May 16, 2002, the Belgian parliament approved a law on euthanasia. In both countries the patient involved in such decisions must be an adult and mentally competent at the time of requesting help. (Deliens & van der Wal, 2003, p. 1239) This seems to leave the problem of a patient's right when they become incompetent. This legalization of euthanasia still does not address the whole picture.The article in the Lancet further states: "Both laws define euthanasia as the act, undertaken by a third party, which intentionally ends the life of a person at his or her request, and in both countries euthanasia can only be effected by a doctor. Furthermore,...

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